Ironman play is a more challenging way of playing roguelike game. Player is expected to take stairs immediately upon sight. Rules vary whether finishing fights and collecting loot in stair room is allowed.
In Ironman play, the player can only ever descend in the dungeon, never returning to an earlier level and then face quest monsters.
There is some variation in the style of play in that some ironmen always take the first set of downstairs that they find, but this rule is not universally agreed upon or enforced.
Because the player does not have access to the shops in ironman play, resources such as light, food and identify scrolls become a lot more important, and tactics such as experimenting with dangerous potions or monsters to determine the 'hidden' abilities of items may be required.
The PC must travel from the starting point in the Drakalor Chain to the Infinite Dungeon immediately which is only place with non-persistent levels in the game. Objective is to go down and recover certain guaranteed artifact.